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Mill closure blow to BC town


September 6, 2005
By Pulp & Paper Canada

The future is looking shaky for logging towns in British Columbia. The recent closure of a laminated wood plant in …

The future is looking shaky for logging towns in British Columbia. The recent closure of a laminated wood plant in Clearwater has forestry workers on edge.

The Interact mill is currently under receivership, and to date, 60 workers who are owed up to $8,000 in back wages, money they will likely never see, have been laid off.

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The situation with the mill is familiar to Clearwater residents. A Weyerhaeuser mill shut down in the town 2003, which threw 300 people out of work and prompted more than 100 families to pack up and leave.

"This latest closure has been devastating," described steam engineer Paul Vilac who found out he lost his job at the Interact mill when his paycheque bounced and he was subsequently requested not to return to work. “This has basically been an utter disaster for me."

The circumstances are particularly frustrating for Clearwater residents, as the economy in the southern part of the province is strong and healthy. "Personally, I blame the BC Liberal policy of allowing forest companies to shut down mills and take the wood out of communities like Clearwater," Vilac said. "This whole time the economy in the south is booming, and the north is just collapsing."

However, Bert Walker, a director with the Thompson Nicola Regional District remains hopeful that the closure will foster a sense of resiliency in the town. "I would agree this has been a bad thing for the town," he said. "But in the long term, we’re hoping the future will see a Clearwater that has a much more diversified economy, and doesn’t just depend on one industry like forestry any more."


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